Advocacy group calls for removal of jailed priest’s supervisor
BANGOR, Maine — An organization that advocates for the victims of clergy abuse has called for the removal of the Greek Orthodox chancellor in Boston who oversaw a former Bangor priest now serving a prison sentence for sexually assaulting a teenage altar server.
Adam Metropoulos, 54, is incarcerated at the Maine Correctional Center in Windham. He was sentenced in March 2015 on four felony counts of sexual abuse of a minor following a jury-waived trial to 12 years in prison with all but 6½ years suspended. The charges stemmed from Metropoulos’ sexual assaults on a 15-year-old altar server at the church rectory in 2006 and 2007.
A press release issued by Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, this week called for the removal of the Rev. Theodore J. Barbas, chancellor of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston. Barbas was responsible for oversight of Metropoulos, according to SNAP.
Metropoulos was suspended as pastor of St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Bangor the day after he was arrested.
“Barbas was almost certainly complicit or at least grossly negligent in this and potentially other sexual abuse cases,” David Clohessy, director of the organization, said Tuesday in a press release.
Efforts to reach the Metropolis, located in Brookline, Massachusetts, and its attorney for comment were unsuccessful Friday.
Earlier this year, the now-24-year-old victim, who is not being identified by the Bangor Daily News, sued Barbas, Metropoulos, the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston, its leader, Metropolitan Methodios, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, based in New York City, and the Greek Orthodox community of Bangor. The lawsuit claimed they all were negligent in supervising Metropoulos.
A trial date has not been set at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor.
The press release quoted the victim’s attorney, Verne E. Paradie Jr. of Lewiston, to support its call for Barbas’ removal.
“As we’ve investigated this case, we’ve encountered repeated and disturbing evidence that the public record of credible allegations of sexual misconduct with children, including a 1983 pedophilia charge, against Metropoulos almost certainly was available to the chancellor,” the attorney said in the press release.
“As the chancellor directly responsible for Metropoulos, Barbas had the ethical duty to ensure that this priest, who also was appointed to the Boston Diocese Camp, where he was granted unmitigated and unsupervised access to children, was not a predator,” Paradie said. “Barbas failed categorically in this capacity, resulting in lifelong physical, psychological and spiritual damage to this child victim.”
Metropoulos was convicted in Michigan in 1983 of second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor under the age of 13, according to Saginaw court records. Because computerized court records there only go back to 1984, information about the crime and the sentence imposed was not immediately available.
If convicted today of the crime, which is a felony in Michigan, Metropoulos would face up to 15 years in prison and be required to register as a sex offender, Aaron Boira, a criminal defense attorney in Detroit, Michigan, said a few days after Metropoulos’ arrest on a possession of child pronography charge in September 2014. The crime, as defined today, includes any sexual contact with a child under the age of 13.
Metropoulos was charged with sexual abuse of a minor two months later after the victim came forward.
The Lantern Foundation, an Orthodox Christian philanthropic organization, joined SNAP in calling for Barbas’ removal, the press release said.
“What happened to this child was both inexcusable and preventable, leading to two conclusions: First, this chancellor must be promptly removed to maintain the integrity of the church,” the Rev. Emmanuel Lemelson, a Boston-based Greek Orthodox priest and founder of the foundation, said in the press release. “Second, this horrific incident points to serious deficiencies in the procedures and protocols used for the oversight of clergy, and those deficiencies require our urgent attention.”